Founders

Chris and Debbie Clark founded Children of the Nations in 1995 in answer to a child's prayer.

Chris is a fifth-generation missionary, born in Japan and raised in Liberia and the United States. In 1984, he graduated from Central Washington University with a Bachelor of Science in Law and Justice. Convinced God’s calling was for him to minister to children, he completed the ordination process and served as a youth pastor for five years. Later, he pursued a career with Youth for Christ (YFC), where he worked as a Regional Director for ten years. Debbie grew up in Edmonds, Washington, and graduated from Seattle Pacific University in 1983 with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education. With her interests focused on special education, she eventually worked as a special education teacher in western Washington for eight years. Early in their marriage, Chris and Debbie became foster parents, serving many children for over ten years.

In 1995, Chris and Debbie traveled to Sierra Leone with Youth for Christ and witnessed the intense orphan problem. The tragedy they encountered—thousands of children ravaged by a brutal war, living on the streets of Freetown without family to care for them—forever changed their life direction. Because God allowed Chris’ missionary parents to raise their family in Africa for a time, this uniquely positioned Chris to be ready for God’s call on that day in 1995. His distinctive life experience of witnessing hundreds of missionaries and how their organizations responded to nationals helped Chris assimilate a philosophy, which COTN presently seeks to implement in each country.

The vision Chris and Debbie see for the benefit of God's Kingdom is to capture the hearts of orphans and direct them to Christ in a way that positions them for leadership. They believe the leadership of this unique group of transformational leaders will alter the issues currently influencing their societies. Moving beyond compassionate care to a place of true empowerment of children and partnership with nationals is Chris and Debbie's true desire and remains the single vision of Children of the Nations: raising children who transform nations.

Chris serves as Children of the Nations international president and on the COTN board of directors. He is also an honorary board member for each of the nonprofit organizations working under the umbrella of Children of the Nations: COTN–Sierra Leone, COTN–Malawi, COTN–Uganda, COTN–Dominican Republic, and COTN–Haiti. As the Senior Director of International Operations, Debbie also oversees the US Sponsorship department and travels to each country, working with in-country staff members to maintain the quality standard of care the children receive physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and socially.

Chris and Debbie regularly interact with US and international board members, in-country staff, and the children. They maintain contact by annual visits to each country and via personal communication. Chris is “Rev. Clark” to the in-country staff and “Daddy Chris” to the children, while the children call Debbie "Mommy Debbie" or "Mom Deb." Chris and Debbie are viewed by the children as beloved "parents" who celebrate their achievements, share their sorrows, and pray for their concerns. The children understand, from Chris and Debbie's actions, that their welfare is Chris and Debbie's God-given passion and their mission in this life.

Chris and Debbie Clark have three children: Alyssa, Sarah, and Bryce, and live in Poulsbo, Washington.